The Power of Destruction

The only true power we have as humans is destruction. Think about it. If you want to create anything, there are so many other forces of nature to contend with, but if you want to destroy something, there is only yourself. For example, to successfully grow a tree, you must have the right soil, a good amount of sunlight and rain. A storm could knock down your tree, or bugs might eat it. It might develop some disease. Lightning could strike it and set it aflame. Any number of things could thwart your tree-growing power.

However, destroying the tree is far easier and more certain. A chainsaw, an ax, a winch and a pickup truck - these would all make fairly quick work of killing a tree.

I think it's human nature to prefer certainty. Some of us also avoid work whenever possible. If creation is the tough, uncertain path, and destruction is the sure and easy path, it's no big mystery to me why you see human-wrought destruction everywhere. I'm not just speaking of environmental destruction; there is a daily destruction in procrastination, in arguing with our partner, in watching TV instead of doing something productive. It's easier to eat a Twinkie than it is to make a healthy meal.

I also think destruction makes us feel powerful, because it creates certainty where none existed. You don't know if your marriage will last, but if you decide to divorce, you know it certainly won't. I wish I could remember where I read this, but an author likened it to children stacking blocks - you don't know when it's going to fall, so rather than living with the unbearable tension of not-knowing, you purposely (although often subconsciously) knock it down.

To me, this explains a lot of previously inexplicable behaviors, such as why people do things that seem contrary to their own interests. I see it all the time in my own life, in small ways. Sometimes when I feel tension I'll provoke an argument to get out from under the uncertainty. Right now I'm avoiding a call to the insurance company about a disputed claim because I don't know which way it will go, and some part of me would rather pay than deal with the confrontation. (A friend of mine would say "...rather than create a new possibility.")

Anyway, I'm becoming more aware of this, and trying to be more accepting of the fact that none of really have much power to begin with. That's not to say we can't use what we have skillfully, though.

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